Popular speaker company Sonos is preparing to launch new high-end “Era” smart speakers to compete with Apple’s HomePod range, and The Verge has obtained marketing images of the products as well as some rough pricing information ahead of their release next month.
The Era 300, shown in the picture above, will be the new Sonos flagship speaker, designed to highlight music in spatial audio. Other features will include USB-C line-in, Wi-Fi 6 support, Bluetooth playback, and AirPlay 2 support. The Verge‘s Chris Welch says the Era 300 is expected to be priced “in the ballpark of $450.”
The size of the Era 300 is said to fall in between the Sonos One and Sonos Five, and includes a total of six drivers that direct sound forward, left, right, and up. A stereo pair of Era 300s, when used with either the Arc or second-generation Beam, will deliver rearward surround sound including upward-firing audio.
Era 300 can be stereo paired as rear surrounds with the Sonos Arc and Beam (Gen 2)
Despite the Era 300 being designed for spatial audio, the Dolby Atmos songs in the Apple Music catalog are “unlikely to be supported at this time,” according to Welch, which suggests that Apple and Sonos have yet to reach an agreement. “This could always change in the coming weeks or by the time the Era 300 hits shelves,” he adds.
The Era 100, shown below, has a rounder shape and won’t come with upward-firing drivers, as it’s not geared for spatial audio like the other product. Welch calls the new speaker “an evolved Sonos One with (ideally) better performance,” thanks to the addition of a second tweeter for true stereo sound and an enlarged mid-woofer for more bass.
Like the other new speaker, the Era 100 features Wi-Fi streaming, AirPlay 2, Bluetooth, and USB-C. The Era 100 is expected to cost around $250 and is likely to replace the Sonos One, which currently sells for $219.
Both speakers are expected to include Sonos Voice Control and Amazon Alexa voice assistants, but support for Google Assistant may be lacking. Welch says Sonos will separately sell a line-in adapter for USB-C audio and a “combo adapter” for plugging in over Ethernet, as there’s no built-in jack on either speaker.
Sonos Era 100 in stereo pair connected to turntable via line in
Sonos has reportedly set a late March release schedule for both speakers, which will be available in white and black colors, while the company is also said to be planning to launch a device in a brand new product category by the end of the year.